Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer for Hipsters and Hi Society

beer Pabst typewriter  45 SWScan03637 - Copy

A typewriter and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer- the choice of retro secretaries and ironic bearded Brooklyn hipsters. Vintage ad 1945 Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer

Who would have guessed Pabst Blue Ribbon that iconic working class beer ironically embraced by hipsters has a pedigree more blue blood than blue-collar.

75 years ago Pabst positioned itself to appeal to the “gay, smart modern set” hoping members of Café Society would pass on that glass of champagne favoring a bottle of the Milwaukee brew instead.

Beer Pabst 39 Normandie SWScan02715 - Copy

“On the Normandie Pabst gets the call. Luxury flagship for the French lie the worlds most sumptuous “hotel-a float.” Where genius in décor and cuisine meet genius in brewing- Pabst Blue Ribbon world favorite of world travelers.” Vintage ad Pabst Blue Ribbon 1939

In an ad campaign from 1939 featuring swells more Wall Street than Williamsburg, the ads pictured sophisticated men-about-town in elegant tuxedos and glamor girls decked out in Elsa Schiaparelli gowns living the high life frequenting exclusive haunts from The Stork Club to The Coconut Grove.

The ads would have you believe these scions of hi society eschewed their jack Rose Cocktails while supping at the Waldorf Astoria in favor of a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

A far cry from the 70’s themed dive bars that currently dot hipster meccas from Portland to Bushwick where skinny jeaned hipsters with thick framed glasses sport Pink Floyd T-shirts, carry Freitag courier bags filled with vinyl LP, and ironically hoist cans of red white and blue PBR.

Where the Smart World Sets the Pace- Pabst Gets the Call


Vintage ad Beer Pabst Blue Ribbon 1939 Smart Set

Embraced today because of its low-key, non marketing marketing, in 1939 Pabst aggressively sought out the cream of society attempting to raise the profile on their beer. Vintage ad 1939


“From the dazzling sands of the beach at Waikiki to the swank Miami shoreline- From the gay social whirl of Westchester to the brightly shining stars of Hollywood- Pabst gets the smart worlds call.

“Because –its brisk bodied for keener refreshment…streamlined for a quicker more sparkling lift in every delicious drop. Nothing heavy or syrupy to slow its invigorating action.

“Just pale golden goodness you never tire of. Pabst is thoroughly aged…to precisely that peak point of soul satisfying, thirst –quenching tang you find in rare old champagne. No wonder Pabst Blue Ribbon is the Smart Worlds password to keener zestier living…the class of all beers in a class by itself!”

“Pass the want Pabst Blue Ribbon”

Waldorf Astoria

Waldorf Astoria  drinking beer 1939

Vintage ad Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1939

“At the Waldorf-Astoria Past gets the call…as seen in the famous Tony Sarg Pasis, one of N.Y.’s smartest meeting places. Here as in the other swank restaurants of the Waldorf, the fashionable world relaxes refreshes with delicious Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

While urban hipsters might arrive in their fixed gear bicycles no doubt these swells drove in their Packard’s to imbibe in Pabst in the  Waldorf splendor.

Coconut Grove

vintage club Cocoanut Grove Hollywood 1939

Vintage ad Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1939

“At the Cocoanut Grove Pabst gets the call. Acknowledged center of Hollywood smartness, Hotel Ambassador plays host to the brightest stars from every walk of life. Here keen living reigns supreme- and Pabst Blue Ribbon is the password to keener enjoyment of every golden moment.”

Today the password among Hipsters is derived from another Hollywood legend- David Lynche’s movie Blue Velvet: “Heineken! Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”


 Santa Anita

vintage ad Beer Pabst 1939 Santa Anita race track

Vintage ad Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1939

“At Santa Anita Pabst gets the call. Never has the sports of Kings enjoyed a more glorious setting. Its southern California’s paradise of thoroughbreds and fashion. And everywhere-for relaxing refreshment at the Club House and thirst quenching goodness in the Grandstand- the winner is Pabst Blue Ribbon”

Royal Hawaiian Hotel


Vintage ad Beer Pabst 39 Royal Hawaaiin folks drinking

Vintage ad Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1939


At the Royal Hawaiian Blue Ribbon is the smart worlds choice at this Pacific Paradise. Once the playground of Hawaiian kings..a hotel of indescribable beauty, fronting the world-famous surf and sand of Waikiki Beach

Pabst was down on its heels, before Portland another west coast Paradise co-opted PBR as their own.


The Stork Club

 1939 stork club

Vintage ad Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer 1939


“At The Stork Club Here N.Y. society mingles with the worlds celebrities of stage radio, screen and press. Gay, sophisticated, elegant. And their choice for keener refreshment is Pabst Blue Ribbon.”

Today, Tattooed bearded Brooklynites in fitted hoodies mingle with alt band musicians in a sea of gingham, plaid and checks.


© Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sally Edelstein and Envisioning The American Dream with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




  1. I notice that only the waiters touch the bottles — as if they were pouring wine. Society folks only drink beer from a glass. Once, after a job interview, my husband and I were invited out for a casual drink. Good thing he ordered gin & tonic; we were later told he got the job (at a prestigious college) because the other leading candidate had ordered a beer, and “He drank it out of the bottle!” Shocking.


  2. I am definitely sharing this post.


  3. I like beer, & PBR is not real good beer to the hard core elite brew pub-ers…….but to most it is light and refreshing; surprisingly this beer should be more popular……:'(


  4. Pingback: DiscoverNet | 14 Beers That Staged A Surprising Comeback

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